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II. Election News This Week
- Elections officials in Kansas and Illinois battled the elements this week as a winter storm slammed into the Midwest just as voters were preparing to cast ballots in local elections. In Kansas, several counties consolidated polling places and elections workers spent the night before the election at the polling place. Poll workers had to be driven to their locations by sheriff’s deputies and in at least on instance, a voter arrived at the polling place on skis. Turnout was low throughout both states. In one Illinois polling place only 13 voters had cast ballots by mid-morning and four of those votes were of the election judges working the polls. Two polling places in Illinois experienced problems when the heat went out and it was too hot in another polling place which had to be relocated due to a fire.
- Late last week, the 9th U.S. District Court of Appeals ruled that a lawsuit filed in Montana seeking satellite voting offices on three reservations can proceed. Defendants, including Secretary of State Linda Mcculloch had sought to have the appeal dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The plaintiffs are appealing an earlier ruling in which District Judge Richard Cebull denied a request to require state and county officials to set up satellite offices for early voting and late registration.
- Oy! The city of Albuquerque, N.M. is conducting a special election on whether or not to change the City Charter’s requirements for runoff elections. This is the first all-mail election for the city and needless to say there have been some bumps. Approximately 11 percent — 3,670 — of the ballots returned have not included the required signature of the voter. Voters are also complaining about postage, thin envelopes that may allow election workers to see a voter’s choice and lack of voter education. The $550,000 election was the result of a petition drive. ElectionlineWeekly would like to use this space as a public service announcement to remind people that while we love “I Voted” stickers, if you’ve committed voter fraud, you may not want to wear one thus advertising your crime. That was the case recently in Florida when a Pompano Beach woman, a convicted felon whose rights had not been restored, showed up for a meeting with her probation officer wearing an “I voted early” sticker. Onakia Lanet Griffin was charged with submitting false voter registration information, false swearing (swearing that the information on the voter registration was true when it wasn’t) and fraud in casting a vote. She is awaiting trial.
- Personnel News: Dale Edwards, Polk County, S.C. board of elections director for 31 years, will retire on Feb. 28. Deametrious St. John is joining the Stark County, Ohio board of elections. He will be the first black member in the board’s history. Hans von Spakovsky was not re-appointed to the Fairfax County, Va. board of elections